Grief is not a uniform experience. We all experience it in different ways. With different pain comes different types of responses to it. Some people spiral. Others may pretend as if nothing happened to shield themselves from experiencing the brunt of the trauma. When you’re a parent, one of your deepest fears is having to lose your children before you can see them grow up. One could imagine that having that happen to them would propel a family unit in a never-ending state of experiencing that. Just seeing another family at a park with their children could be a trigger. In Here Before, Laura (Andrea Riseborough) is within the doldrums of loss. About seven years ago, she lost her daughter, Josie in a car accident. It just so happens that a new family moves in next door. There’s a little girl named Megan (Niamh Dornan) who is eerily similar to her deceased daughter.

There’s an instance where Megan drives Josie from school, and she points out something very specific that only Josie would know. Writer-director Stacey Gregg slowly leads the viewer on a psychological expose of Laura’s mental state. Is it possible that this young girl could be a reincarnation of her deceased daughter or is this an overextension of Laura’s wishes. Gregg makes strikes a great balance of dialogue and silence. A scene will happen where Laura will almost cross boundaries being a proverbial helicopter mom to Megan. Afterward, the film takes advantage of its dreary atmosphere where Laura will look out a window longingly during a rainstorm. When Laura talks to Megan’s mother, Marie (Eileen O’Higgins), it’s at a distance in frame. A wall only separates these two families. So a scene will show Megan’s room and pan over to what Josie’s room is now. Just filled with storage and gym equipment.

Here Before keeps the viewer engaged with its source material. So engaged where the audience might not see the movie’s final twist coming. Not only is there a possible supernatural aspect in play, but an exploration of how loss affects a family. An aspect of the car accident that is noted is Laura was not in the car. Her husband Brendan (Jonjo O’Neill) was. So, there’s an undercurrent of resentment that follows between the two – even seven years later. While they have lost a child, the parents still have a teenage son named Tadhg (Lewis McAskie). He’s a bit combative and testy. As Laura goes deeper into believing possible reincarnation, he becomes hostile towards Megan’s family. Thus jeopardizing Laura’s bond with her. Which even feels weird to say because she’s someone else’s child.

The film will have you in conflict with your feelings and that hinges on an impressive performance from Riseborough. You feel bad for Laura because she believes in something so deeply. There are creepy coincidences that happen with Megan, which would seem to validate what she sees. However, it’s so far-fetched that you can’t go that far with her. Brendan goes to her and asks if she wants to talk to someone, meaning a psychiatrist. She rejects it and continues on this path, thus wedging division in the family she has left.

Little morsels of information trickle out about who Josie was and what she looked like. Gregg keeps information close to the chest because if you’re seeing things from Laura’s perspective, it’s distorted to what she wants anyway. Taking this journey, no matter how dubious it may be, makes you want to get to the bottom of things. Here Before is a combination of an enthralling story, characters you want to believe, and a small-town Northern Ireland setting where it may seem like supernatural things could be possible.